The weekly bookmarks digest (normal service will be resumed in Sept), and a day earlier than usual….

Fight!:— Birmingham’s twitter-fight // The Airship Destroyer (1909), a silent short in which fleets of German naval airships invade the British Isles // The history of contemporary water-pistols //

West Midlands:— Jake at MADE calls for a Birmingham datacentre to rival London’s Telehouse. Apparently, they don’t need to cost billions — a new Telehouse Europe data centre of 2,000m2 recently opened in Paris, costing just 10 million euros. Although it reportedly requires the same electricity supply as “a town of 35,000 people” — perhaps something of a stumbling block // A potential new studio/gallery in Digbeth, Birmingham, called Moo Studios… “are looking for committed artists to rent space and exhibit together. The rent will be £35, all inclusive.” Interested? Submit a bio and pictures of some of your artworks to: moostudios *at* // Congratulations to Deb, who’s been invited to design an “edible garden” for the autumn Malvern Show. My LOLcat-ish suggestion for the name:- “I haz a fud!” // Grab a Multipack; their next pubmeet is Sat 12th July 08 // A new EU-funded High Definition (HD) production studio in Coventry // Yet another local ‘monsters & fabulous creatures’ themed exhibition to add to my list. “Seeing Dragons In The Clouds: the art of imagination” is now on at the Bilston Craft Gallery, until 9th August 08 // RIPE Showcase at The Light House in Wolverhampton (there are publicity photos on Flickr), featuring the work of 16 West Midlands photographers. Until 7th August 08. There’s a tasty 12-page colour booklet for the show, but it doesn’t appear to be online as a PDF. Get networking at the “RIPE Party” on 1st Aug 08, from 7pm // Ben Neal reports on being Fluxed and flummoxed in Birmingham // The magnificent “St. George’s Horse” sculpture, part of a Flickr set of Michael Sandle’s September 07 exhibition in the grounds of Ludlow Castle in Shropshire // BINS blogs a well-informed letter in favour of keeping the present Central Library — although I can’t help weighing it against this plea from someone who worked there // The International Festival of Glass and British Glass Biennale 08, in south Staffordshire at the end of August 08 // Gigbeth music industry one-day conference, 6th Nov 08 // Want to deliver Birmingham’s Cultural Strategy? You have until 21st July 08 to apply for the job. A tip for the first day in the job:- put the existing Cultural Strategy document online, so we can all read it // I’m told the 4IP fund should open sometime in late July, which will allow Midlands new media companies a chance of between £20,000 to £1.5m of project finance. Adam Gee at Channel 4 has described it as… “quick and dirty seed money” // Moodle Wrestling, a horrible blood-sport in which puny academics are forced to battle against a wild Moodle. Free techie event on how to manage such bouts, on 7th Aug 08 in Wolverhampton // Birmingham’s IXIA is considering putting together an artist-led “Supplementary Planning Document” for Eastside. I’m wondering if this could be done in the form of an open-access wiki? // Rescue Geography: Exploring Eastside with mobile technologies, part of the lead-in to something called “LabOne: October Laboratory” in the Autumn // Rescue Geography blogs that the… “Big Plan for the city is currently being finalised” by consultants Turner Townsend and others // Rescue Geography also blogs that… “Richard Clay, one of my colleagues over in the [University of Birmingham] History of Art department, has just pulled in a big grant to work with archivists and curators in the city on the [architectural? history? of the] development of Birmingham’s suburbs” // Play Fair 08 is the UK’s main trade-fair for play. Yes, play is an industry and it’s booming. Play Fair is on 15th-16th July 08 at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. “This highly focused, two-day event has free seminars, organised by Play England” // The Public gets an extra £3-million //

Objects and machines:— The Science Museum has a wiki that’s the seed of a universal dictionary of objects, although there are only 133 at present // A map of the future of making new objects (PDF link) // Sid Check’s “Machine Age” (1952), complete. For its original audience, this must have been a gripping bit of epic storytelling, compressed into just a few pages. I owned a copy (filler in some circa-1980 B&W Marvel reprint) as a child, lost it, and have been looking for it ever since. I think the Kirby-style machines in the first frame must have been a big draw for me, but now I find that the strip was originally published in 1952. So does that mean that Jack Kirby’s approach to drawing machines was inspired by this strip by Sid Check? // A blog with a heart. Literally // Big Executive Balls (video, 50mb) // MIT has a cloud //

Educashun:— I’ve long been deeply skeptical about most structured and test-based “e-learning”, especially for the post-14 age groups. The research shows that e-learning projects nearly always fail, although I admit that £1m+ high-budget ‘serious games’ that seek to convey complex and tacit knowledge might be a very different matter. Tara Brabazon expresses her own doubts about e-learning, in the THES newspaper. Although, as an old leftie, she predictably and somewhat bizzarely blames… Mrs Thatcher. One might more plausibly suggest that the rise of a certain kind of dumbed-down “e-learning” (from the late 1980s onwards) was a by-product of Thatcherism’s historical failure to wrest state education from the iron grip of the “all must have prizes” brigade // “Schools kill creativity” (video) (hat-tip: Joanna Geary) // Simon Woodroffe says the paranoid “cotton-wool culture” in our schools… “will rob Britain of the next generation of entrepreneurs// A report by the Children’s Commissioners said that Britain is failing children in numerous key areas — who knew? Including cutbacks in the arts services and youth clubs. As the DEMOS think-tank reported in 2006… “79 per cent of local government arts officers were expecting their budgets to be at standstill or to be cut. Eighteen English local authorities – one in 20 – have dispensed with their arts services completely since 2002”. Then in early 2007, and without any consultation, Arts Council England cancelled all arts match-funding agreements with all local authorities. Then the Spring 08 cuts hit // The declining birth-rate has already caused thousands of schools to close and there are hundreds of thousands of empty desks in schools that stay open. Now the same trend seems set to cause serious recruitment problems at British universities by 2020. And this will come on top of: increasing overseas challenges; variable quality of university management; ever-more rapid changes in industry requirements; the lure of the private sector for under-valued lecturers; and the ongoing retirement of the ‘baby-boomer’ generation of lecturers //

Censorship:— Loopy new legislation in Russia seems set to ‘ban’ goths and sundry other teenage subcultures, Halloween, St. Valentine’s Day, and the sale of toys that look like monsters, among many others. Should a nation spinning into a demographic death-spiral (U.N. figures: 148 million people in 1992, 100 million by 2050) risk massively accelerating the process by encouraging the more imaginative kids to psychologically “pack their bags” for a better life in the West? // Blog or die? How about blog and die? A new law in Iran would punish those setting up a weblog — with the death sentence // Following the recent legal ruling on a censorship case there, an Australian artists’ magazine tries to turn Prime Minister-baiting into a national sport // In The Guardian:- “censors were once sent packing. But now they’re back”. He’s talking about the UK // Tate Liverpool has pinned up a notice suggesting under-18s shouldn’t see some of the Klimt paintings on show at Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design and Modern Life //

Knowing cities:— “A short enquiry into the origins and uses of the term neogeography” (PDF link) // A new Birmingham blog, Rescue Geography + interactive map // Ctrl-N slow-blog // Your personal clip-on urban sonar kit // Flickr neogeography pool // “Me, My Spouse and the Internet: Meeting, Dating and Marriage in the Digital Age” // Rethinking Space and Production: Henri Lefebvre today conference; Delft, Holland, 11th-13th Nov 08 // Playing shooters may improve your spatial orientation skills; or so says one of those dismal bits of psychology fluff that rests on a sample of a mere 20 people, all of them U.S. students // A computer can automatically geo-tag any photo by comparing it with those on Flickr // Still time to catch the 2nd international OpenStreetMap State of the Map conference. Limerick, Ireland, 12th-13th July 08 // Google Earth in a holographic? touch-sensitive interface (video) //

Foto:— At last! Nu-real photocompositing meets LOLcats. I buyz print-on-demand photobuk, plz? // How to open and flex a newly-arrived oversized print-on-demand photobook // An exhibition of Japanese photography monographs (aka photobooks) at the British Museum // The UK’s make-it-up-as-we-go-along ‘laws’ on photography get Boinged // “Eminent Domain: contemporary photography and the city” in New York // Iran launches missiles Photoshop ped_Missile_Launch”> Photoshop //

Perfect holiday reading for your isolated cottage:— Having seemingly slipped out-of-copyright in the U.S. and Canada (?), the Midlands novel Cold Harbour (1924) has been reprinted as a fine new limited-edition hardback of only 400 copies. Cold Harbour is a macabre psychological horror novel set in the Black Country to the west of Birmingham, and the novel drew praise from no less than H.P. Lovecraft… “told with singular skill through the juxtaposed narratives of the several characters … an ancient house of strange malignancy is powerfully delineated … approaching absolute perfection.” Sadly, it seems that while the old copyright regime (life+50) saw Cold Harbour out-of-copyright in the UK by 2004, the new regime (life+70) means it’s back in copyright until 2024. // The author, Francis Brett Young (1884—1954), also set a long series of other novels in the Black Country, south Staffordshire, Birmingham, and the Welsh Marches. // More information from The Francis Brett Young Society // There’s a decent entry on the man on Wikipedia.